An American couple whose young son was shot at a bus stop near Jerusalem over twenty years ago is filing a lawsuit against a U.S.-based organization, American Muslims for Palestine.
Stanley and Joyce Boim, whose 17-year old son David was fatally shot by members of Gaza-based Hamas in the West Bank, are suing American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) in attempt to curb the funding of terror organizations in the Middle-East.
The Boim family won a $156 million judgment in 2004 against the Islamic Association for Palestine and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, as well as an individual. The federal magistrate who presided over the case tripled the $52 million in damages that had been awarded by a jury under the Antiterrorism Act of 1990.
The Act allows American citizens who are victims of terror abroad to collect damages in domestic courts. While the Boim family says they only received a portion of what they had been awarded, they maintain that their goal is to cut off terror-funding channels rather than to profit off their son’s death.
Both the Islamic Foundation for Palestine and the Holy Land Foundation were found to have funneled money towards Hamas’ nonviolent wing, which provides educational, humanitarian, and medical services to residents of the blockaded Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, the federal magistrate who confirmed the settlement said that individuals and organizations which contribute to even the nonviolent wings of terror organizations are responsible for the less savory outcomes of their donations.
Contesting the notion that AMP might be involved with Hamas, the chairman of American Muslims for Palestine, Hatem Bazian, said the lawsuit was “frivolous” and grounded in Islamophobic sentiments rather than reality.
“It’s a frivolous lawsuit,” he said in an interview. “They are using the Islamophobic environment we are in to try to tarnish and defame an organization that is in good standing, and has been working diligently to provide a perspective on the Palestine cause to the American public.”
The Boims’ lawyer, Stephen Landes, reaffirmed the family’s position that they weren’t after money or a massive financial windfall, stressing in their complaint, filed in Chicago, they hadn’t received much from the original 2004 judgment.
“The Anti-Terrorism Act can’t simply be set aside by rebranding yourself,” he said.
The American Muslims for Palestine organization was founded in 2006, two years after the judgment. Its spokesman says AMP has no ties or affiliation with Hamas or any other U.S.-designated terror group.
The complaint against AMP, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleges that the individuals who directed and controlled the Islamic Association for Palestine and Holy Land Foundation – Rafeeq Jaber, Abdelbasset Hamayel, and Osama abu Irshaid – started the American Muslims for Palestine organization in an effort to avoid the financial and legal repercussions of the 2004 judgment.
The complaint refers to the AMP and the other, individual defendants as ‘alter egos’ of the IAP and HLF, citing organizational, financial, and membership overlap between the AMP and its now-defunct and alleged predecessors.